Dublin High School’s Alexander Franco and Granada’s Roland Ruckmann-Barnes compete in vastly different track events.
But they have something in common – they won individual-event North Coast Section boys titles after impressive performances Saturday at the NCS Meet of Champions.
Franco edged Moreau Catholic’s Bryce Thomas to win the 400 meters in 48.65 seconds. The Cal Poly-bound senior also anchored the Dublin 1600 relay team to victory in 3:23.60.
The Cal-bound Ruckmann-Barnes won the 3200 meters with a great kick in a personal-record 9:02.27.
The top three placers in each boys and girls event except the 3200 relay (two) automatically qualified for the California Interscholastic Federation state championships this Friday and Saturday at Buchanan High School in Clovis. Field events trials start Friday at 3 p.m. and track trials begin at 5 p.m. On Saturday, field event finals start at 4:30 p.m. and track finals start at 5:45 p.m.
Franco had such a great start in the NCS boys 400 final Saturday that he made up the stagger after approximately 110 meters. His last 100 meters was particularly strong as he held off Thomas for the victory.
“I got out like I need to and maintained like I need to,” Franco said. “I’m just so happy right now. I finally won NCS for the 400. It’s just a great feeling.”
In the 1600 relay, Franco was joined by teammates Manyu Yara, Joshua Arevalo and Sebastian Guinther to win by nearly a second over runner-up Piedmont (3:24.58).
Ruckmann-Barnes was ninth through the first 800 meters of his race, but moved up to fifth at the 1600-meter mark, which he passed in 4:37.30. The senior stayed in that spot for two laps before making a move into third place on the seventh lap and taking the lead with 400 meters to go. His final lap split was an impressive 59.39 seconds.
“The entire plan was to go with that front pack and cling on for dear life,” said Ruckmann-Barnes. “I wasn’t planning to win. … 9:05 was my goal. … If I have a shot at winning this thing, I had to go with a half-mile left and put myself in position. … In the last 400 meters, I’m like, if I’m going to do this, I have to go now.”
Dublin’s Victoria Bradley placed second in the girls pole vault with a mark of 11 feet, 7 inches. The senior cleared 10-5, 10-11 and 11-3 on her first attempts before getting over 11-7 on her second attempt to clinch a qualifying position for the state championships.
“I’m really happy. I didn’t make it this far last year, so I’m super excited to go to Clovis this week,” said Bradley, who was seventh last year. It is the second straight year that a Dublin athlete qualified for the state championships in the pole vault – Jathiyah Muhammad was the NCS champion as a sophomore and Khaliq Muhammad won the boys title as a freshman. Jathiyah went on to win the state title. Dublin coach Chris Williams said that the Muhammads transferred from Dublin in February.
Amador Valley’s Erin Brown placed second in the girls shot put on Saturday with a mark of 39-1 ½. The senior achieved that mark on her first attempt and only Pinkie Schnayer of Campolindo was able to pass her (39-7 ¾).
The Foothill boys 3200-meter relay team also qualified for the state championships with a second-place finish in 7:59.11 on Friday. The team was comprised of Elias Benard, Brennan DeCoite, Colin Wong and Shiven Karnik.
Granada’s Abby Stein is headed to the state championships in the girls 3200. The sophomore was fifth at the 1600 mark in 5:23.09 on Saturday, moved into second on the next lap and was second or third the rest of the race, placing third with a personal-record time of 10:45.13.
“I’m just really surprised,” Stein said. “They’re all really fast and I know they have kicks, so … I want to start kicking soon to have a shot.”
Granada’s Aleksander Schade had a third-place finish of his own in the boys 800, as he moved up from ninth at the 400 mark with a great kick to produce a personal-record time of 1:54.96.
“Very happy to get third and qualify to state,” said Schade, a junior, who edged Dougherty Valley’s Shane Badcock by .05 for third place.